NEWS: Edinburgh International Children’s Festival programme unveiled

The 29th Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (26 May – 3 June 2018), which is produced by Imaginate and funded by Creative Scotland, launched its programme to the public today. From intimate, immersive theatre specifically designed for babies, through to high-energy and thought-provoking shows for teenagers, the Festival presents the gold standard of theatre for young audiences from around the world.

The 2018 programme features 14 shows from 12 countries – a varied programme of theatre, dance, multi-media and puppetry curated by Festival Director Noel Jordan. As well as well-loved Scottish companies such as Catherine Wheels, families will have the opportunity to see productions from as far as New Zealand and Canada, and for the first time, an exciting show from South Africa partly performed in the clicking language Xhosa.

This year, the festival has also extended opportunities for families to attend shows with performances in the evening, at the weekend and on Friday afternoon.

“2018 promises to be another spectacular year for the Festival,” said Edinburgh International Children’s Festival’s director Noel Jordan“Where else can you share the lives of two young refugees from Syria, thrill to the rebellious curiosity of a boy made entirely of clay or delight in watching childhood toys infiltrate and disturb the lives of busy executives. Whilst the stories they create are incredibly unique and offer different perspectives of the world, at their core is a belief that children – no matter what their circumstances may be – deserve the best art possible.”

Small people, big subjects
This year’s festival doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. From the refugee crisis in Europe (We Come from Far, Far Away), to four young girls’ obsession with death (Mbuzeni), from climate change (Loo) to overcoming grief (Eddie & the Slumber Sisters), this carefully curated programme tackles big issues with sensitivity and humour, giving children and their families plenty of food for thought.

Opening weekend
The festival will open with a family weekend at the National Museum of Scotland (thanks to an enduring partnership with National Museums Scotland) with free drop-in events throughout the building including live music, pop-up performances, storytelling, hands-on arts activities and more.  As part of the celebration of the Year of Young People, Imaginate has recruited six passionate and enthusiastic Young Associates aged between 17-24 yrs to help programme and deliver the weekend festivities. They have been given free rein to curate a key strand of the weekend.

Festival on Tour
The festival will also go beyond Edinburgh with a 3 week tour of Scotland of Baba Yaga, Imaginate’s new international co-production with Shona Reppe and Windmill Theatre Co (Australia) funded by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.  A new twist on an old Russian folktale created by three unique female artists from across the globe, the show is set in a “retro-futuristic world” where Vaselina must achieve three impossible tasks to escape from the witch Baba Yaga.
A tale set to gives its audience a lot to chew on…

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said:
“I recognise the importance of young people engaging with the arts and the significant benefits gained by increasing access and opportunities for all our young people particularly this year, as we celebrate the Year of Young People. The 2018 festival will deliver a high-quality programme of work in Edinburgh and beyond including Baba Yaga, which was funded through £100,000 provided by the Scottish Government EXPO fund. Research has provided strong evidence on the value of young people experiencing culture from an early age, and the Children’s Festival ensures their exposure to performances and experiences of world class quality.”

Wee Night Out
The festival will also see the culmination of a special initiative, which gave a group of 10-15-year-old children from Craigmillar the opportunity to work with the festival director. Together, they attended nine productions at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and following heated discussions about what they had seen and liked, selected The Road That Wasn’t There to be included in the 2018 Children’s Festival programme. The project was funded by The City of Edinburgh Council.

Megan, one of the young person involved this year said: “I found it good to hear the feedback of different people and what they thought of each show, but it was kind of hard to put across what I thought and explain why I wanted it included in the programme”.

Festival tickets are on sale now. For full programme and booking information, go to http://www.imaginate.org.uk/festival. Tickets can be booked online or at 0131 228 1404.

This year’s international programme, in order of age suitability, includes:

Toddler Room (for 0-3 yrs)
Dybwikdans (Norway)

A beautiful dance show set inside a white tented dome where gorgeous sculptural objects, sounds and costumes are the stimulus for a magical and sensory experience.  This immersive performance for the very young is full of wonder and special discoveries.

Loo (for 2-5 yrs)
Ponten Pie (Spain)

Loo is a hot wind from Asia that moves the desert sand dunes, dries up wetlands and leaves ships buried in sandy oceans.  Set around the bow of a wooden sunken ship, the show explores the changes this wind can cause using music, a set full of sand and stunning visual effects.

Não Não (for 2-5 yrs)
Le Vent des Forges (France)

Não (No, in Portuguese) is a mischievous little boy made of clay who discovers a world of mud, water and talc. Set in a mini amphitheatre of beautifully crafted wood and metal, this humorous performance made entirely out of mouldable clay, explores the sensory and messy escapades of young children.

Things to Wear (for 2-6 yrs)
Theaterhaus Ensemble (Germany)
As clothes emerge from a giant paper bag, a man and a woman take on different roles, different outfits and test their limits, dancing in and out of jackets, trousers and dresses. The two opera-trained performers accompany their show with beautiful singing of The Fairy Queen.

Ogo (for 2.5-6 yrs)
Théâtre des Petites Âmes (Canada)
Three strangers have received an invitation to travel with Ogo. But Ogo never comes. This magical show about strangers becoming friends thanks to a mysterious puppet is a wonderful tribute to creativity and imagination, accompanied by live music.

Stick by Me (for 3-6 yrs)
Andy Manley & Red Bridge Arts (Scotland)
A quirky new show about friendship and play, and the importance of treasuring little things. Created by Andy Manley and Ian Cameron, co-creators of international hit show White this shows proves that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely.

Gretel and Hansel (for 6-10 yrs)
Le Carrousel (Canada)

The arrival of a little brother has upset the balance of Gretel’s life completely. So when they are abandoned and end up at the witch’s house, she is very tempted to push him into the oven and get rid of him forever… Seen through the eyes of Gretel, this show investigates sibling relationships, and the complexity of love and jealousy.

Expedition Peter Pan (for 7-12 yrs) 
Het Laagland (The Netherlands)
The show explores the joys of play, shaking off the shackles of adulthood, and flying high with the king of make-believe. It invites audiences into a world where marbles appear in briefcases, paper planes in filing cabinets, and long-forgotten music thrills you to dance.

Baba Yaga (for 7-12 yrs)
Shona Reppe, Christine Johnston & Rosemary Myers (Scotland/Australia)
Vaselina lives the quiet life, working as a receptionist in a tall apartment block. But all that changes when she is forced to confront a terrifying resident who plays her music too loudly. An uproarious new take on an old Russian folktale. Commissioned by Imaginate and Windmill Theatre Co.

The Road That Wasn’t There (for 8-13 yrs)
Trick of the Light & Zanetti Productions (New Zealand)
A young woman fascinated by ‘paper roads’, streets and towns that exist only on surveyors’ maps, strays from the beaten track and finds herself in a parallel paper world. Combining puppetry and shadow play, this is a dark fable drawn from the twitchy edges of children’s literature.

Eddie & the Slumber Sisters (for 8-13 yrs)
Catherine Wheels Theatre Company (Scotland)
The Slumber Sisters, an all-singing trio whose job is to monitor dreams, decide to intervene when Eddie’s nightmares become increasingly wild and chaotic, following the death of her grandmother. This interactive show explores grieving with warm-heart, songs and humour.

A Feast of Bones (for 9-15 yrs)
Theatre Lovett (Ireland)
A deliciously dark retelling of Henny Penny, the classic fable of survival, set at the end of the First World War in a French café. While a waitress sits polishing her knives, one cunning customer is about to be served a meal he will never forget. A musical fable about revenge.

We Come from Far Far Away (for 10-15 yrs) 
NIE (Norway / England)
Based on true stories, this show follows the difficult and amazing journey of two boys who travel alone from Aleppo, Syria to seek refuge in Oslo. Performed in a yurt, using puppetry, comedy and live music, this rich and touching production tells a big story in an intimate way.

Mbuzeni (12+ yrs and adults)
Koleka Putuma (South Africa)
Mbuzeni tells the story of four orphan girls and their fixation with burials. From one of South Africa’s most acclaimed young black female voices, this visually evocative journey explores tradition, burial rituals, African folklore, sisterhood and mortality.